MARY’S MOUNTAIN is now in paperback, as well as on Kindle. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will. It answers the question of what happens when we forget our values and make the easier, and maybe more profitable, decision to tolerate evil.
Here are the first few pages.
Irene tap, tap, taps her Waterman pen on the mahogany desk and leans over the polished wood, spreading her tailored wool reflection between us. “Just tell me, Paul,” she demands, glancing at my manuscript. “Why would you write this?”
She’s too close for a quick answer. I’m aware of the tension in her slightly-open mouth, like a Venus Fly trap emitting a floral perfume that rides on her breath; her breath that had once become my breath, numbing the edges of my tongue like Novocain.
Tap, tap, tap.
I study the web of veins behind her gold-rimmed glasses. They travel over the whites of her eyes like a red penciled road map to disaster. So, I keep my mouth shut.
She lays down her pen, thumps my manuscript with her fingers like a preliminary drum roll. “After all our success, you desecrate everything we worked for with this patriotic puke. Why, Paul?”
But I’m looking at the tiny smudge on the bow of her mouth. Out-of-place lipstick? A trace of double-chocolate mousse? There are plenty of desserts here, except the sugar’s fake, with a bitter after-taste.
I understand her disappointment, even her anger. After all, she’ll be held responsible. She has a Board of Directors now, and it’s not easy to run a place like this. There are lots of lulus here. I should know. She and I conceived it together—The Institute of Tolerance.
Today, inside its progenies, rigid rooms are covered in fiddle-faddle flowers and sentimental hearts beating warm and fuzzy pizazz into nearly every state of the union. Outside each building, a neon sign blinks: Tolerance Today, Tolerance Tomorrow, Tolerance Forever! The signs have fingers, virtual reality, to motion the people inside. The signs move. The lights move. And the people inside are moved, to tolerate anything.
“Paul?” She’s in my face again, stroking me with my name like she used to do when we were lovers. “I feel your pain,” she says, and her nose seems to grow before my eyes. “But you’ve betrayed our cause. The Solitary Room may be necessary unless you agree to renounce this nonsense.” She lays a hand on my arm. “There is no principle worth dying for.”
Her touch is sacrilege. Her polished, glued-on nails prick the sleeve of my issued pink shirt. Her papery palm burns my forearm as if the bones beneath her skin were poker hot.
I loathe her, but I didn’t always felt this way….
I hope you take a look at my other books, too. In one way or another, each of them portrays characters in the process of making dire choices. And often they make wrong choices that ultimately cost them.
But aren’t we the same?
Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing, I took a wrong turn and just kept going.–Bruce Springsteen
Lucy Adams, Lake Oconee Magazine, wrote the following about my short story collection, Birds of a Feather; but what she wrote also describes my writing in general.
Hinckley writes characters who are shocking, flamboyant, disturbed, unkind. She writes characters who are merciful, gracious, empathic, loving. She writes characters who demonstrate the dualities of human nature. Edmund, in “Shooting at Heaven’s Gate,” allows himself to be used by evil. Rather than condemn his actions, Hinckley pushes her reader to acknowledge the frailties of the human heart. “We all are capable of doing great evil,” explains Hinckley. “Why does a person do this? I like to know reasons.” Curiosity about human nature propels her plots.
Don’t seek clearly defined protagonists and antagonists here, however. Hinckley’s characters are complicated. They’ve done horrible things, witnessed horrible things, been the victims of horrible things, yet they continue rising each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. They fulfill their obligations to each other while these horrible things gnaw at them from the inside out. Hinckley deftly presents the repulsiveness of her character’s actions, while also revealing her characters’ drive toward love.
My contention is that any decision we make can drastically change the course of our own lives, and even change the kind of people we are as Americans. So, shouldn’t we comb through our hungers (our choices) and make only those we’re sure will better us all?